Chores. Oh, this brings up so many feelings and discussion opportunities in parents everywhere. And trust me, I get it. Often, we are running from one activity to the next and don’t seem to have time to think let alone perform some sort of contribution to the household.
To me, chores can help your children recognize they bring value to this world — that their actions matter. Not only is this important for character development, it helps instill the learning the value of giving back and hard work. Even 10 minutes a day can help reinforce the idea that we all can contribute to the betterment of our family.
And it’s important that we think of think of little ways the kids can give back. Feeding the animals, watering plants (a favorite of my children), setting the table, packing their lunch or snacks, they can and should contribute. (I know, I know, it is just so much easier to do it yourself. But we are playing the long game here.)
I also try to not call them chores in my home. (This has taken a long time to change for me and I still slip up at times.) We call them a contribution. Language matters to our oldest and I’ve had to get creative with naming as I want him to know that it is more than a “chore.” I also challenge parents to stop using chores as punishment. If we think about it, we are invited them to develop valuable life skills. When need to send them the right messages – that contributing in this way helps.
Chores (aka contributions) can help:
Provide opportunities for growth. Said Dr. Melissa Nemon, Brandeis University and lead statistician for the Learning Habit Study, “The evidence from the study shows that consistently doing household chores has positive effects on children’s grit formation.”
Learn responsibility. We can also show that we believe in their abilities. That we don’t and won’t treat them as little children or do things for them when they can do it themselves. Offer training sessions: Child or Parent leads. We also utilize when/then routines in our home. I will cover this in greater detail, but when Henry has completed his contributions and other activities, then he can use technology. (Technology is something to earn and is the carrot in our home. For others, it is reading or art. You know your child and will know what works best.)
Finally, let’s remember to make it fun. Especially for kids who might have executive functioning issues. In early childhood, my son used to love to be a cleaning detective. He’d take a before and after photo of a room he tidied. He would help me search the house for things out of place and make piles for each family member.
What do you call chores in your home? What do you find best to get kids to engage? Do you use when/then routines?